The Japanese government is warning travelers against taking unregistered taxis, as more tourist arrivals have increased demand for transportation in Tokyo.
Officials from Japan’s Transport Ministry have been handing out pamphlets with warnings printed in English and Chinese at Tokyo’s Narita Airport since early November, according to the Mainichi Shimbun on November 18.
According to the article, the fliers depict unlicensed taxis as “illegal and unsafe,” and passengers who experience injuries while traveling in these cabs may not be reimbursed by insurance.
The leaflets also explain how to recognize a licensed taxi from an unregistered one: the former has a green license plate with a green frame, while the latter has a white plate.
“To ensure safe travel, we want travelers to use authorized taxis and vehicles that are well managed,” said Mr Mitsuteru Yanase, head of the ministry’s office in Chiba.
While ride-hailing services like Uber and Grab have grown in popularity as alternatives to taxis in other countries, Japan continues to prohibit services that allow private-hire drivers to work as unofficial cabbies.
Although the Uber app is available in Japan, it can only be used to hire licensed taxis.
However, due to a shortage of cabs in rural and tourist areas, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have recently increased their calls to expand the ride-hailing business.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated in October that the government will consider allowing ride-hailing businesses to operate in Japan.
According to the report, the taxi industry is hostile to competition, and the Transport Ministry is wary, citing concerns about a lack of standards governing who is responsible for driver health and vehicle maintenance.